“And you will come to find that we are all one mind / Capable of all that's imagined and all conceivable”
Buckle up everyone, this is a relatively long think-piece article designed to delve into the emotions behind being a fan, and to get everyone reading thinking: Why are you a fan of your favorite team? My answer varies to yours, and your answer varies from the next guy, etc. However, I believe we all paradoxically have the same answer as well. It sounds dumb, but allow me to explain.
We all started getting into different sports for different reasons. Some people, like myself, for instance, are into multiple sports and got into them all for different reasons. American football & basketball because theyʼre very popular in schools in America and NASCAR because my family was big into it. Football is an enigma for me because it was the only sport I decided to get into of my own free will. My path to get here is different, yet I have the same reason to go down all those paths. Subconsciously, I wanted to belong to a group. I wanted to belong to a fandom, a gathering of people who share a similar interest to me and be with ones who are the same as me. Itʼs a basic human emotion, the want to be welcomed, a sense of belonging that is primal in nature. Sports fandoms are the most mainstream way I can think of where you get this sense of belonging from others, almost like you are all friends. When I think about it, itʼs exactly why I got into any sport. For football & basketball, it was because I wanted to make friends on the team. For NASCAR it was so I could be closer with my family.
For football, however, it was for the sole purpose of making friends and relationships with fellow fans. Being a fan of a football team is different, nothing in America comes close to what Europe has. When you watch videos of the Liverpool stands in Anfield or the Dortmund fans in the Westfalenstadion, you see something totally different, itʼs almost cult-like in the way the supporters follow their teams. I fell in love with it. When youʼre a fan of a football team itʼs almost like you take on millions of brothers and sisters, all with a shared passion. This is what I mean whenever I say we all are fans for the same reason. We want to become part of something greater than the sum of its parts. We want to feel connected to one another, which is what the footnote of this article here alludes to in away. Being a fan has many moving parts within it, and what it means varies, but we all get here for relatively the same reason. Liverpoolʼs club motto is “Youʼll never walk alone.” Now that club motto is not why I chose to become a Liverpool fan, but I canʼt say that subconsciously it didn’t help in my decision making. Since when you are a can, you are truly never alone. The moving parts are what make us all unique in our fandoms. I want to cover what those are, and how they can vary between each individual.
In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world. This is what being a fan is like, when you root for a team, you have many fans who root against your team. These are your team’s rivals. Liverpool to United, Barca to Real Madrid, Celtic to Rangers, every team has their rivals, but isnʼt it strange how you always come back to your rival team? Youʼre almost drawn to them, always coming back to pay almost as much attention to them as you do your own team. Some people have genuine hate for other teams and those who support it, some just root against that team in a competitive setting. Regardless, youʼre always pulled back to them. Without rivals, you can never truly experience what being a fan is like. Yin and Yang is a very common occurrence, as opposites do attract, not just in our anatomy but in nature itself. Itʼs not just in sports fans as well, but in fandoms for anything. There will always be an opposing force that will pull you in.
Funerals are another example of duality. Theyʼre one of the saddest moments you can think of, yet also a moment where a vast amount of people come together to console one another in a very tough time. These emotional patterns are often found in nature, as when a plant dies, it leaves behind seeds, giving way to new life, and allowing the growth of its species to continue. Funerals serve as the same cycle, wherein death, loved ones come together, to console one another, and to allow each other to grow in the face of the dark times. We as fans do exactly the same thing. When the team is performing poorly, when theyʼre struggling and all hope is seemingly lost, thatʼs when we as a species are at our strongest. I’ve seen many fans band together and support one in the face many things, it could be mismanagement from the board, a transfer ban, or even a club facing liquidation. The human spirit will never stop fighting, and when you have many others on your side in the fight to help along the way, the fight gets easier and easier.
There canʼt be flowers without rain, and there canʼt be triumph without treachery along the way. All the emotions that go through someone whenever a loss happens, the grief, sadness, pain, anger, depression, is all worth it in the end once you get that elation of winning and being #1. The patient by Tool is my favorite song of all time, and Iʼd like to use an excerpt from it as an example of what I mean;
“If there were no rewards to reap, No loving embrace to see me through, This tedious path I've chosen here, I certainly would've walked away by now.”
This to me perfectly describes how it feels to remain a fan during the rough times. I was there, I watched Liverpool lose in the Champions League final, I know how it feels to be so close. Even still, I knew that at the end of the tunnel, there will be rewards to reap and reap them we shall. Winning that Champions League is something I will never forget, as it became my second favorite sporting moment of all time. (ask me what #1 is). On that football field, eleven men went out there, gave it their all and became winners. Unbeknownst to them, however, millions across the world were winners that day as well.
I see some people criticize the use of “we” when referring to someoneʼs favorite team, saying “youʼre not on the team,” and other things of that nature. I say let them. I never really understood the distaste for it, as when youʼre a fan of a team, you truly feel like part of it, and the team would agree that the fans are just as important, if not more important than the players themselves. When you are a fan, you are part of the “we.” You are part of a family, while unrelated by blood, youʼre related by your passions. To me, thatʼs just as good enough of a reason to love one another as any. Thereʼs enough hate in the world to go around, and we are aware of it. The more we can come together with common goals in mind, the better the world will be. While we may be fans of different teams, weʼre all fans of the same beautiful game, and we all share a very tedious, yet surprisingly similar path to get here.
Author: Logan Smith - 22, from Florida. Liverpool fan for 4 years now, also just a huge fan of the sport of football. You can find me on twitter @lxteralus